Jay-Z's The Blueprint showed little fatigue in its second week of release, selling 270,814 copies, according to SoundScan, to easily remain at the top of the charts. The decrease was significantly smaller than the standard fifty-percent second-week drop-off, likely due to the continued success of the album's first single, "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)".
Elsewhere, the charts got a much-needed new coat of paint. Four albums splashed into the Top Ten, which has undergone serious overhaul in the past two weeks. Other than Alicia Keys' Songs in A Minor (which held fast at Number Two), Enya's Day Without Rain (which after forty-four weeks of release finally cracked the Top Ten) and Linkin Park's pesky Hybrid Theory, every album in the Top Ten is either one or two weeks old.
This week's top newcomers included Tori Amos' Strange Little Girls, Martina McBride's Greatest Hits and Gerald Levert's Gerald's World, which arrived at Numbers Four, Five and Six, respectively. And in one of the year's more refreshing crossover chart surprises jazz pianist/vocalist Diana Krall threw her latest, The Look of Love, into the Top Ten, with sales just shy of 100,000.
In fact, Krall's debut further identifies a faint pulse that just might be adult consumer constituency. The O Brother Where Art Thou? surprise is a surprise no longer, having sold two and a quarter million copies in thirty-eight weeks, while it's spin-off, the live Down From the Mountain also resides on the charts with sales near 100,000. And a closer look at the Top 200, shows some additional titles that have nothing to do with rap, metal, R&B, teen pop, guitars and so forth -- folks who were unplugged when unplugged wasn't cool. In genres without inflated video, tour and recording budgets their persistence is proving productive. After six weeks in stores, Alison Krauss and Union Station's New Favorite remains in the Top 100, with sales easily clearing six figures. And towards the bottom of the Top 200, fresh-faced new grass ensemble Nickel Creek's Nickel Creek refuses to go away and it is three to four weeks away from crossing the 300,000 unit mark. A movement? Maybe not, but labels might get hip to the fact that a few record buyers have paying jobs rather than an allowance for chores.
That said, there were still plenty of other new chart entries. Macy Gray's The Id hardly stormed out of the gate, debuting at Number Eleven with sales just under 100,000, but her first album was a slow burn and singles-driven. Live's V (Number Twenty-two) and Coo Coo Cal's Disturbed (Number Forty-five) also made their way into the Top 100.
And in an unofficial battle of fan bases, Phish unleashed not one, but five double-live albums on their fans last week. The shelved band put all five albums within the Top 200. The tally didn't match Pearl Jam's chart siege in early March, when they placed seven of their bootleg series albums in the Top 200, but if you take it in as a batting average, Phish was a perfect five-for-five, while Pearl Jam had to take twentysome swings to score their seven hits. A local show in Vermont proved, predictably, to be the most popular of the set, moving more than 13,000 to debut at Number Ninety-six.